What is your business?
Circular11 is a startup turning low grade plastic waste into outdoor products and building materials. We use a composite technology, putting additional materials into the plastic to strengthen it so that we can make products that are useful and low carbon. We make outdoor furniture, landscaping products and we’re about to start making fencing. A lot of our target products are made from timber, but they will rot quickly whereas plastic will stay functional for decades to come. So even though plastic is a waste material right now, it is probably the perfect material to replace items that will end their life after a few years.
How did you hear about SWEF and what led you to apply for a grant?
There aren’t many grants that are willing to take a chance on young entrepreneurs who are starting out but might not have too much to show for it yet. When we saw the SWEF grant information on the Dorset Community Foundation website it seemed like we were a good fit.
How did the grant help you develop your business?
The month or two after we got the grant, we took on our first employee, and we didn’t realise how difficult cash flow would be. The grant ended up being an absolute life saver, allowing us to fund our overheads to keep going with production before we took receipt of payment of our first orders.
How have you seen your finances change since you received the grant?
Our personal financial situation has changed quite a lot since receiving the grant. We were bootstrapping at the time, originally putting money into the business as we had part time jobs. Then we needed to go full time, but we couldn’t pay ourselves. There was this difficult period where we had to be full time but there was no way we could afford to pay ourselves a salary. Since then, product sales have been picking up and we’ve been able to put ourselves on a salary so we’ve become a bit more stable after a period of a year where things were up in the air. The grant was a pretty important part of that process, shifting to a point in time when we could put ourselves on PAYE.
Where do you see your business in a years time?
We’re just about to move into a larger industrial workshop, so in a year’s time we’re hoping operations are a lot smoother, we’ll have more machinery, we’ll have more people in the team and I think it will start to look a bit more like a normal business.
We want to ramp up production a lot. We have quite ambitious plans because we have a technology that uses up low-grade waste so we think we should be trying to scale as much as possible. In the future we want a big factory, we want a production line in other countries that need this technology, and we want to be processing thousands of tonnes and making thousands of products.
Anything else you want to share?
The advice I’d give to those thinking about applying is just do it. Most importantly, if you already have an idea that you’re willing to put time and energy into then there is something special about the way you think already; you’re willing to take risk, you’re willing to come up with ideas yourself and that’s exactly what I think this grant is meant for. It’s for people who are going to bring to life projects that take risk, energy, and hard work and even the process of applying is useful. The questions you must answer are thought provoking. So, it’s worth applying, it could be the start of a process that changes your life.
Where can we find out more?
To find out more about us you can visit our website